Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last of the Christmas Crafts!

Here's the last round of photos!

Velcro Boy's Joseph.  He even drew the face by himself.

Doodlebug's Joseph (with help, of course.)

The Professor's Advent wreath.  It is now complete with a Christ candle too!

The Professor's Polar Express

Velcro Boy's Angel.  All. By. Himself!!!!

The Professor's Angel. (It's white, I guess the color balance is off :( )

Velcro Boy's snowman.  Again, by himself!

Doodlebug's tree.

Velcro Boy's tree.  And, yes, by himself.

Doodlebug's wreath.

Velcro Boy's wreath.

The Professor's wreath.  If you look closely, you'll notice the leaves around the holly berries.

That's all for the Christmas crafts for this year.  I know the "all by himself" is repetitious, but I'm a bit of a craft Nazi.  That I let the kids do their own projects, with very little help from me is downright amazing!  I did supervise.  I mean, we're talking about little kids with paint!  And, Doodlebug needed a lot of help.  But, I think they did really well.

Painted sugar cookies

I always drag my feet about decorating cookies.  I find it much easier, especially with the kids, to just do drop cookies or slice and bake (with home made batter of course ;) ).  BUT...I just came across this post from the lovely and very talented Jessica at Shower of Roses and decorating cookies just got a whole lot easier.  My cookie Nazi SIL may even like this idea ;)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Ideas

I found these neat ideas on various blogs. It's way too late to do anything with them at this point, so I'm linking in the hopes that I'll find them in time for next year :)
Waltzing Matilda

Another Day in Paradise

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Christmas crafts & a new angel

Velcro Boy's snowman

My generous Velcro Boy decided he wanted to make this wreath for Doodlebug's door.  Isn't he sweet???

Inspired, The Professor decided to make him a door hanger.  Unfortunately with the way our doors close, a doorhanger is less than practical :(  So the kids each have a doorhanger now, and it hangs on their wall :)

In addition to the family tree, each of the boys has their own tree in their room.  The elders decorated on their own, I "helped" Doodlebug.


The Professor's

Velcro Boy's

We also got an angel for our family tree.  We've used a star  for the last several (since I can remember) years.  Last year we couldn't find an angel we liked.  This year, we did!

Isn't she pretty??

The finished tree...


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm now surrounded by Gabriels!  The Annunciation has happened about 20 times today.  Just here in our house.  Imagine how many times it's happened around the world ;)

Doodlebug's (aka made-by-mommy)

The Professor's

and...Velcro Boy's

We were planning on making Joseph today, but got busy doing some other things.  That's right...more pictures tomorrow or the day after :)

Tree Decorating

The boys all had a blast decorating the tree this year. I was careful with my instructions, only 1 ornament on a branch, keep the non-breakables toward the bottom, etc. Except for 2-3 branches Doodlebug didn't double up on any. And...even bigger, it that I've only rearranged a few of the ornaments that they hung ;)


Doodlebug & The Professor

The Professor & Velcro Boy

Velcro Boy

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Crafts

We've been pretty busy around here lately.  The kids have made some things that I can't show since they're going to be gifts ;)

Gingerbread Boy by The Professor

Santa and his reindeer.  If you look closely, you'll notice something special about the last reindeer.  It's Rudolph, complete with shiny nose :)

Boys baking!  I had a simple baking project that I decided could be turned over to my little helpers.
Pretzel bites

Mini-twist pretzels topped with a Hershey's Kiss.  In this case the new candy cane kisses.  YUM!
Bake at 350 for ~5 minutes.  And...

Top with an MnM.  Super yummy!
OK, we also made some with dark chocolate kisses.

There are several others as well.  I get more pictures up soon.

I'm surrounded!

By Mary!  Velcro Boy had a project to "make" Mary.  And of course what one boy does, the others have to do too.  Someone has got to tell me how to say no to these requests.

So there's not one...


Not two...

Velcro Boy's

But three Marys floating around the house.

The Professor's (Of course, he had to be different!)

Bet you can't guess how many Gabriels are floating around ;)

Joseph comes tomorrow :)

Santa puzzle

The Professor did another one of his famous 3-D puzzles.  It's Santa, with a gift bag in a sleigh and 2 reindeer.  I think this was the hardest one yet.  He did most of it himself, but needed me to help with the reindeer.

 To make matters worse more interesting, he decided that he REALLY wanted to paint it!  And so he did.


I think this came out pretty well.  Keep in mind this was painted by a 6 year old boy without much experience painting.  

Our Nativity

Our Nativity is all set up.  Well, all except the 3 most important visitors.  The box in the middle is one of the Professor's projects.  He made a manger and the kids get to put in a piece of "straw" when the do a good deed or make a sacrifice.

Closeups of the cow, donkey and a goat.


On the shelf above is the flock :)
The shepherd, 2 sheet, a beggar and a flutist.


As it turns out, there are only 19 pieces to this set.  I had earlier mentioned 21.  I have 4 pieces done already and hope to get 6 more done next year.  I think a goal of one figurine every other month is a good goal.

The Angel

Once again I forgot to take the before picture.  Remember Joseph?   Well, here's the angel that announces the birth of Christ...partly done.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mary did you know?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you've delivered
 Will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?

Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

And when you kiss your little baby
You've kissed the face of God.

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?

This sleeping child you're holding is the Great I Am.
 Lyrics written by Mark  Lowry

This song has been weighing heavily on my mind the last few years.  Being pregnant at Christmas time, I felt a close kinship to Mary.  Christmas, 2 years ago, I was 8 months pregnant with our third boy (doodlebug).  I was big.  I was uncomfortable.  And I was scared.  Much as I think Mary may have been around that same time roughly 2000 years ago.  I imagine that getting ready for that trip to Bethlehem, so very far along in her pregnancy was quite scary.  I also imagine that she did her best to try to turn those anxieties over to God.  Much as I was learning to do that year.  Being new to the faith, I was still floundering around and getting my footing.  I felt very unsure of myself.  In many ways.  Not just the faith, but in parenting 3 kids.  
  • What had we done???  
  • Would the Lord provide the means to support our family?  
  • Would I be able to get through the day, dealing with the demands of the kids and still come out with my sanity?  
  • What would this one be like? 
These were all questions that kept going through my mind a hundred times a day.  I was desperately trying to turn over my anxieties and "Trust in the Lord with all your (my) heart".  And for the most part it worked.

I often wonder(ed) how much Mary knew about that miraculous baby she was carrying.  Did she know it was the Son of God?  Or did she just think that God had put a "normal" baby in her?  How much of the Scriptures did she know?  Did Mary connect the prophesies with her and her baby?  Did she remember the writings about His death?  Did any of these things occur to her before she said that single word?  "Yes".  So much was carried in that one little. tiny. word.  Did Mary know what she was getting herself into?  I know I didn't.

As I'm sure she did, I've learned a lot about God's strength and that it's there for us.  Just for the asking.  How incredibly amazing is that???

You see, I'm a fairly recent convert to the Catholic faith.  During 2006, thanks to my brother-in-law's influence, we started listening to Dave Ramsey, a Christian financial counselor.  A lot of his precepts are based on Scripture and he often quotes various passages.  I guess the Holy Spirit was using Dave's show to lead me to Him.   Around September '06, I started feeling like there was something missing in my life.  I was working part-time, had 2 beautiful healthy kids and a husband that worked all the time.  I figured maybe the kids needed some organized structure in their days, a class or regular play date or something.  We were considering home schooling at the time so I figured maybe we should give it a try and see.  Well, that wasn't it.

Then I figured that maybe I needed something for myself.  A class or something.  Couldn't really find anything I liked, could afford and could fit into our schedule.  So I kept floundering.

Then came Thanksgiving of that year.  As my mother-in-law said the blessing, a ton of bricks fell on my head.  Not literally of course, but that was how it felt.  I could barely breathe.  That something missing.  That hole in my life.  That sense of incompleteness.  God.  God was what was missing from my life.  Once I formed the thought in my head, once I said the thought to myself, I could breathe and the weight I had been carrying around was lifted.  Now, how to go about filling in the hole ;)

At the time, my tradition was to set out Thanksgiving night and set-up the tree.  The following weekend was an all-out frenzy to get the house decorated for Christmas.  And that year was no different.  However, once the decorations were up it struck me that maybe, just maybe, this year should be a bit different.  Seeing as how I had just found God and all that.  So after pondering where to start, I decided to ask my sister-in-law for some advise.  I told her I was looking for some good kids books to introduce the real reason we have Christmas.  I wasn't ready to "come out" about my developing conversion yet.  I'm sure she about fell out of her chair when she read my email though.

So I spent the "Christmas season" (Advent) learning about God and His wonderful Son.  I got a bible, daily email devotions, read some books.  Keep in mind I told NOONE about this, not even hubby (who was raised Catholic and left the Church when he was 18.  He was away from the Church for ~18 years and was away at this time).  I was really liking what I was reading/learning and I had developed a bit of a prayer life.  I thought "hey, this is pretty neat!  Should I find a church?"  I had never understood the purpose of organized religion.  Why should you have to go to a certain place to talk to God?  Isn't He supposed to be everywhere???  So, no, I didn't feel that I needed to find a church.  I had found God, and that was enough for now, thank you very much.

Shortly after the New Year (2007), hubby and I talked and we found we were both in the same place.  I was open to God.  Listening to Dave had led him to become open again.  And he was ready to go back to Church.  He asked if I was, "no".  He asked if I minded him asking around about  local Catholic churches and him going.  "I don't mind" I told him.  So he asked around, and he went by himself one Sunday.  He asked me later that day if we could go as a family next Sunday.  I said I would think about it, but I didn't think so.  Come Saturday night I ask him what time we're going to church on Sunday.  He couldn't have been happier.

That first Mass was so awkward.  Velcro Boy had hurt his foot, and I spent the whole Mass trying to keep he and The Professor quiet.  All I heard was "In the name of" and "the Mass has ended..." (and lovelier words they couldn't have been at the time).  However, with all that I was willing to go again.  And then I was hooked.  It just felt so much like the right place to be, and it still does.  Now that I've been in several different churches, I've realized it's not the building, nor the congregation that makes it feel that way.  It's my Father's house, and that's where I belong.

Fast forward a bit (OK, a lot), we had the kids baptized, attended Mass regularly and I joined RCIA (October 2007).  Doodlebug was born Jan 2008 and I was received into the Church at the Easter vigil March 22, 2008.  He was baptized the following Sunday.  Ironically enough, all of our kids were baptized on Divine Mercy Sunday.

O Wisdom-O Sapientia

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Come, O divine Wisdom, give us the true knowledge and the taste for what is  eternal and divine. Inspire us with a thirst for God's holy will, help us seek God's guidance and direction, enlighten us in the teachings of the holy gospel, make us submissive to Thy holy Church. Strengthen us in the forgetfulness of self, and help us to resign ourselves to a position of obscurity if that be Thy holy will. Detach our hearts from resurgent pride. Give us wisdom that we may understand that "but one thing is necessary" (Luke 10:42). "For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26.) The Holy Spirit would have us know that one degree of grace is worth more than all worldly possessions.

~from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B

found here

Monday, December 14, 2009

The tree is up!

We (finally) got the tree up and decorated.  The tree actually made it's way out of the box on Friday afternoon, but we didn't get it decorated until today.  Saturday, during doodlebug's nap, I set to putting the lights on.  BIG mistake!  Of the 3 strands of lights from last year, only 1 was working!!!  So, I debated going to Wal-Mart that afternoon to replace the lights.  HMMM... Wal-Mart, late afternoon, 3 kids and myself AND less than 2 weeks before Christmas...NOPE!  No way, no how.  Not me!  So, I sent hubby later that evening.  Supposedly after the crowds had passed.  HA!  He said the registers were still 12 deep and only 2 lanes open!  Anyway, the local store didn't have any, so he went to the Supercenter (gotta love a man on a mission ;) ).  They also didn't have any.  We also decided this year to switch to the LED lights.  But neither store had the LED or the regular mini-lights.  So, Sunday on our way home from Mass, we swing by another store.  No lights.  Now I'm starting to worry.  So during Sunday nap, the Professor and I go out in search of lights.  No luck at Target, so we finally go to Sears Essentials.  Finally pay dirt!  We got the last 4 boxes of LED lights they had.  Of course they didn't have the mini-lights either.  AND they were on sale so we able to save a bit of money.  Boy are they expensive though.

I finally got the lights on late Sunday afternoon.  We're on break this week (except for a massive amount of reading, crafts and baking), so we took today to decorate the tree.  The kids had a blast.  I was very specific on the ornament per branch, keep the breakables down low...  The Professor and Velcro Boy did a good job listening, though they did have favorite sections of the tree and some ornaments were clustered.  Doodlebug also did better than I thought he would.  There were only 2-3 branches that had double ornaments. 

They each have a mini tree for their rooms, that we also decorated today.  So, the decorating is all done!  I can finally erase it off my project list.  YIPPEE!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Small Successes

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."


Well...  This isn't exactly a small success, it's quite a large one (at least for me).  I finished making the ornaments for our Jesse tree!!!!!!!!!!  WooHoo!!!  What a major load off.  I'm really happy with how they came out and I can't wait for the kids to see all of them, not that I'm rushing Advent or anything ;)


  I'm (finally) making a dent in the ongoing project list I have.  I've been meaning to come up with a daily schedule for us, as well as a daily school schedule, and I finally sat down and did it.  I'm also working on one for school, that may take a bit of time.  I really don't want to be so regimented as to say "we do math from 10-10:30, grammar until 11:00" or something like that.  I like to be a bit more flexible and give the kids more of a say in what to do and when each day.  Within reason of course :)  And, yes, I know a schedule can be thrown out the window at a moment's notice.  God knows I've done that on many an occasion.  But I do like to have a baseline.  I've read about people using time blocks and I think that could work well for us.  Especially since doodlebug still likes to keep me on my toes.


I figured out Christmas Eve dinner!  My husband's side of the family has gotten together on Christmas Eve for the big celebration for years, it gives the daughter-in-laws a chance to spend Christmas Day with their families.  This year I was supposed to host the Christmas Day celebration with hubby's side and my side (only 3 people), while my SIL was supposed to do the Eve.  Well...they're closing on a house shortly after Christmas.  So glutton for punishment that I am, I volunteered to switch years.  She accepted.  So now I'm hosting the Eve for hubby's side (and mine too), but I don't know what we'll do for Christmas Day.  Honestly I'm not sure we'll get together on Christmas Day.  2 years ago when I was preggo with doodlebug we hosted the Eve, and stayed home on the Day just the 4 of us.  That was really nice and relaxing.  Big 'ole preggo belly in pj's all day long.  I felt so close to Mary that year, but that's a whole other post :)

Long story short (this is short??), I figured out the menu and who needs to bring what for Christmas Eve.  Now to figure out the timetable :)

What are your Small Successes this week?

Stop by Faith and Family Live to read more of this week's Small Successes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Speech Therapy update

I just realized that I hadn't updated with the latest about Velcro Boy's speech therapy. I finally got in touch with the case worker (this was a while back), and there is a 6-8 week delay in scheduling the appointment for an evaluation. Then the wait on the schedule, the eval and the follow-up on that. Then 2-3 weeks to start therapy. So...this could be quite a wait to get a hopefully simple problem to resolve.

It's all up!

The house, inside and out, is finally decorated for Christmas. With the exception of the tree anyway. That will go up on Sunday and be decorated next Monday and Tuesday.

In years past, I've made an all-out push to get the decorations up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Last year, hubby convinced me to slow it down and delay the decorating. So I did, sort-of :) I took it even easier this year. I put up a box or two of decorations last week, then another this past Sunday. There's another box or two of tree decorations left to do.

I love getting out the Christmas (and Advent!) decorations. So many of our things are home-made, it's like meeting old friends all over again. My ultimate goal is to have all (or most of anyway) of our decorations be home-made. We're well on the way to that goal. And, it's something I'm striving toward over the next several/many years :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent 2009

I thought I would post pictures of our Advent "decorations".

This is the Advent calendar I made 2 years ago.  There are pieces of Velcro on the backs of the ornaments and the reciprocal side on the tree.  When I first made this I only planned it for 2 kids, so I got doubles of the ornaments, you know so there couldn't be fights over who got which ornament. that there are 3, I'm thinking that I may need to get a few more ornaments.

Our new Jesse tree!!!  I'm so happy with how this is coming out.  I'm horribly behind on this project.  I only have one more ornament made to be hung then I'm out.  I HAVE to get cracking on this!


Our Advent wreath:

I got tired of picking wax off the greenery and chasing the kids away from the candles, so this year we were going to switch to votives in the holders that fit into the taper holder.  But...we couldn't find unscented votives in the right color.  So hubby found these.  They are LED tapers.  A bit high-tech for an Advent wreath, but they actually look nice.

Our creche`:
As you can see, a sheep has already come to visit.


This is the Advent calendar I just finished making.  Boy was it a pain!  But the boys are having fun opening it each day, and that's what counts.

I started decorating for Christmas today.  I got through 2 of those big Rubermaid boxes (out of 5 total!).  I'll do more next week.  The tree will go up on Gaudete Sunday and we'll decorate on Monday and Tuesday.  There are so many people in the neighborhood that already have their Christmas lights up. I can't believe it!  The boys are starting to bug me about Christmas light walks.  For the past several years we've gone out walking the neighborhood looking at lights a few times a week after supper.  They want to restart this tradition.  I'm dragging my feet since it's still so long until the holiday.  Plus I would rather wait for a few more lights to go up :)